Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Some Desert Friends

Female Bighorn with twins, Zion NP, Utah

Female Bighorn with twins, Zion NP, Utah

For me, photographing wildlife is not what I’d call a personal “passion”.  It’s enjoyable, but I can take it or leave it.  Except when it comes to these guys.  My wife and I love Bighorn Sheep.  And one of the best places to find them, I think, is in the upper plateau (eastern) region of Zion NP.  We’ve been to Zion many times and I can’t remember a trip where we didn’t see any Bighorn.  There’ve been trips when we weren’t close enough to get any decent photographs, but we’ve always managed to see at least one or two climbing around in Zion’s red rocks.

On this last trip we got really lucky.  We’d just climbed out of our favorite slot canyon area and were relaxing by the Jeep when we saw a number of sheep coming down the side of a nearby cliff.  What was most interesting was that there were some youngsters in the group.

So I got out my longest lens (420mm with the crop factor applied) and got as close to them as I could.  Maybe too close.

Busted! Spotted by a Bighorn, Zion NP.

Busted! Spotted by a Bighorn, Zion NP.

Not the best composition, but I love the “expression” on this one.  He (or she) had just spotted me and for a few seconds didn’t seem to know what to do.  So we just stared at each other for a while.

A very young Bighorn, Zion NP

A very young Bighorn, Zion NP

I’m not sure how old these youngsters were, but what amazed me was their ability to navigate the rocks and cliffs.  Apparently a talent that they’re born with.

A more regal pose, Zion NP

A more regal pose, Zion NP

I think this guy might have been the alpha male in the group.  He seemed to be doing most of the sentry duty.  But I’m not sure.  Heck, sometimes I have a tough time telling the males from the females………

In any case, I couldn’t have asked for a better pose.  The eye is clearly visible, the neck is turned, and the location is perfect.  Most importantly he’s not eating!  More than anything, I think, an eating animal makes for a poor photograph.

Another good pose, Zion NP

Another good pose, Zion NP

There’s one other problem with wildlife photography:  to get a few good images you have to take a lot of them.  It’s not like you can ask them to stand still while you’re setting up.  While the images posted here are decent, I’ve got a lot, lot more of Bighorns eating grass or bushes, or pictures where they suddenly turned around and I got a great shot of their butt.  And I’ve even got one where my subject decided to take a dump.  But I certainly can’t complain.  I’d invaded their turf, not the other way around.



2 Responses to “Some Desert Friends”

  1. E. Brooks

    You came away with some very nice Bighorn Sheep photos, Paul. I especially like the first photo of the adult followed by the two young lambs. It’s amazing how agile the young are with those gangly legs. We haven’t seen sheep yet but then we haven’t been to the east side of Zion yet either. But there’s still time. So much to see out here. Not a terrible problem to have! 🙂

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks Brooks. Yes, I like the first image, too. The 3 Bighorns form a nice diagonal moving from top left to bottom right. And I love diagonals, especially when there’s visual motion involved.

      Have you been into the lower canyon of Zion? Although you won’t see any Bighorns there. Deer and turkey, perhaps, but no Bighorns. At least I’ve never seen any in that area. Have fun!


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